Bayelsa State government says the appointment of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, as a permanent secretary is in recognition of her services to the state and nation, coupled with the fact that she was a directorate level officer in its civil service.
“Unknown to a number of people, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, joined the Rivers State Civil Service in the 90s, and upon the election of her husband as Deputy Governor in 1999, transferred her service to the civil service of Bayelsa State. She rose through the ranks of the public service of Bayelsa State and was last appointed into the directorate cadre as a Level 15 officer in 2005”, it said.
The state government’s statement was in response to the criticisms which trailed the inclusion of the First Lady’s name in the list of 19 public servants appointed permanent secretaries on July 11.
According to the statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Public Affairs) to Bayelsa State Governor, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, “by the traditions of the state civil service, officers on directorate level, some of whom are even junior to her (Patience Jonathan) present position, have been appointed as permanent secretaries before now”.
The statement went on: “Even among the list of those currently appointed, not all of them are the most senior officers. Appointment is a combination of leadership, output, dedication, geographical spread etc which informs a governor’s exercise of his discretionary powers to appoint permanent secretaries in consultation with the appropriate authorities.
“We want to place it on record that His Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, is convinced firstly, that wives of governors, vice presidents, Presidents and all other spouses whose positions are not recognized by the laws of the country and are not funded by the government should be encouraged and supported to pursue and maintain their independent careers. Happily, there are several instances in this country where wives of presidents, governors, national assembly members etc have gained recognition and have been rewarded in their chosen careers.
“His Excellency believes that wives of such public officers should not suffer prejudices or deprivation merely as a result of the positions occupied by their husbands.
“We believe that in this particular instance, her services to the development of Bayelsa State and Nigeria as wife of a deputy governor, governor, vice president and now President qualify as essential service which should be recognized and rewarded, not derided and denigrated on the altar of politics”.